Waiting for the next puff of smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel....
The rain seems undecided here in Rome. I keep going out with an umbrella, and it doesn't rain. And then, like this morning, I went without an umbrella to St. Peter's for a private Mass, and when I exited the basilica later it was pouring.
Here's hoping the cardinals in conclave are proving themselves more decisive than the rain.
I wasn't in Rome during the last conclave, so I don't know what it was like on the ground. But someone who was in Rome then mentioned that the atmosphere was charged with a particular spiritual current. Blessed John Paul II had died, and many of the young pilgrims who flocked to Rome for his funeral were still here for the conclave.
With the quite different circumstances behind the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and consequent ambiguous feel of the days between his announcement and the start of the conclave (which was exactly one month, if I'm not mistaken), there is in Rome what I would describe an a kind of uncertainty that borders on uncertainty.
I don't mean that in a necessarily negative way. It may simply be more a reflection of who happens to be in Rome these strange days. Waiting for the first smoke last night, I chatted with various folks in St. Peter's square, asking them where they came from and why they were here.
Some university students told me that they bought tickets to Rome from Cambridge several weeks ago, and it was just chance that they were at the conclave. Other people from the States told me that they planned to come to Rome this week months ago, and it was dumb luck that they were here for the conclave.
So I guess what I'm saying is this:
The vibe is like a World Youth Day...with a few notable differences.
The people who showed up didn't necessarily plan on coming to it.
And no one knows when the Pope is going to arrive.